If you have ever wondered why so many products — like milk and some cereals — are fortified with Vitamin D, this is because this vitamin can be hard to come by from regular food sources. This is unfortunate, because this vitamin is incredibly important for many health functions, including the health of your bones, muscles and teeth and even your immune system. And if your body does not get this nutrient in sufficient amounts, there can be a wide range of health problems that follow, including those below:
- Painful, Weak Muscles
Muscles rely on certain amounts of vitamin D in order to function properly. When the vitamin is not there, this can cause sore, achy and weak muscles. The is the kind of feeling you often get when you have a viral infection like the flu. The pain can vary from fairly mild to severe and tends to get worse over time if the deficiency is not corrected.
- Headaches and Dizziness
These symptoms are common with high blood pressure, which is also a common complaint from those with vitamin D deficiency. High blood pressure, however, is often called a “silent killer” because, although it is a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes, some people have no warning signs at all. However, if you are having headaches and dizziness and you suspect that your blood pressure may be high, you should definitely talk to your doctor.
- Tummy Troubles
If you have been diagnosed with a medical condition like celiac disease or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), or if you simply have problems with things like heartburn or constipation, vitamin D might slow down how fast your body can push through the food that you eat. There is a definite link between digestive problems like celiac and other condition.
- Frequent Infections
If you notice that you struggle with frequent urinary infections or with respiratory problems like the cold or the flu, then chances are your immune system might not be as strong as it should be. One reason for this could be a lack of vitamin D, which is found in high concentration in immune system cells and is needed for them to function. In one study, it was found that children who had high levels of this nutrient in their system had less chance of acquiring a cold or the flu.
- Excessive Sweat
If you notice that you sweat excessively but that there is no obvious cause for it, such as a fever, warm day or strenuous workout, you should also report this to the doctor as well. There is actually no good explanation for why low vitamin D levels can cause this problem, but it has been pretty well-established in the medical literature, anyways.
- Feeling Blue
Another less well-known symptom of vitamin D is depression, with its symptoms of feeling sad, worthless or just plain blue. However, the good news is that once vitamin D levels are restored, these problems will often disappear and you can return to normal life.
- You Have Darker Skin
African Americans are at greater risk of vitamin D deficiency, because if you have dark skin, you may need as much as 10 times more sun exposure to produce the same amount of vitamin D as a person with pale skin!
Your skin pigment acts as a natural sunscreen, so the more pigment you have, the more time you’ll need to spend in the sun to make adequate amounts of vitamin D.
How to Restore Low Levels of Vitamin D
If you suspect that you might be low on vitamin D, report this problem to your doctor: a simple blood test will answer the question as to whether or not a deficiency is causing the problem. And the good news is that there are plenty of simple lifestyle changes you can make that can help you raise your low vitamin levels, including:
- Eating foods that are rich in vitamin D, either because they contain it naturally or they have been fortified. These include egg yolks, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, beef liver or some cheeses. Fortified dairy, cereals, juices or other fortified plant-based drinks (such almond milk).
- Supplementing with vitamin D capsules. Generally, it is recommended that adults under 70 need 600 IUs a day while those over 70 need 800 IUs. However, if a doctor it treating a patient for a deficiency — especially if it is severe — he or she might prescribe up to 4,000 IU’s daily until the problem is resolved.
- Exposing yourself to sunlight is another excellent way to get vitamin D into your body. If you are the kind of person who wears sunscreen all the time, this might see a bit hard at first. But if you can get 15 minutes’ worth of sun exposure for 3 times a week, this can really help you restore those levels.
Just that you should know, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common of vitamin deficiencies and there can be serious health consequences for this. The good news, nonetheless, is that eating a diet rich in this nutrient and getting exposed to sunlight several times a week can often help restore those levels to normal!